I was asked recently (as I seem to be asked whenever I complain about my current career or lack thereof) what I would do if the normal constraints of family, friends, finances and talent were eliminated. Usually I go with some sort of writing, but in this particular instance, inspiration struck. I would be a wandering storyteller. I would wander from town to town, sharing stories and telling tales and generally amazing crowds with my talented tale-spinning and imposing persona. I would be just like the minstrels of old, except without the lute.
It seems, however, that the MIT Media Lab has beat me to it. They’ve recently created a new ‘Center for Future Storytelling‘ with the express purpose of “transforming storytelling into social experiences, creating expressive tools for the audience and enabling them to embellish and integrate stories into their lives, making tomorrow’s stories more interactive, creative, democratized, and improvisational”. Hm. Sounds strangely like the minstrels of old.
But before you get huffy about a supposed ‘tech’ school going old-fashioned, keep in mind that they plan a wide range of virtual tools to be integrated into this ‘modern’ storytelling. Key features to be newly included are ‘synthetic’ characters (go robots!) and new imaging technologies, both of which are supposed to make stories more interactive and adaptable to audience response. Of course, all this new stuff doesn’t add up to a real, live minstrel. But one day it might, putting me right out of the job i never had.